It happens to all of us, even though we do not want to admit it. The reality is we all get older. Some of you may already know what I am talking about, and others may have yet to experience the phenomenon of aging. Those of you who are reading this article and are no longer “spring chickens” get my drift. Even if you are one of the lucky ones, still young, let me fill you in on what happens as the body gets a few miles on it.
Probably the biggest thing that we all dislike when we creep into our thirties and forties is the extra poundage (i.e. weight) we tend to put on. (It is also a lot harder to take off when we get older.) Unfortunately, because our metabolism slows down, we are unable to pound down a burger, fries, and a couple of cokes without the bathroom scale hitting “tilt” a few days later. In my mind, that probably is the most difficult adjustment we have to make: an adjustment in our nutrition intake as we age.
The second most noticeable difference as we age, especially for the more active individual, is it becomes a little more difficult to get out of bed. The back is a little sore, the knees are a little creaky, and, if you workout, the soreness does not go away as quickly. This is a result of a few things that happen to our bodies when we get older. Number one is we lose a percentage of our muscle mass on a yearly basis. After the age of 25 (don’t quote me on the specifics, but I believe) about 1% of your muscle mass is lost per year. Makes sense now why we get a little sorer and getting out of bed is more difficult. We simply do not have as much muscle to do the work.
I could go on and on with the depressing facts of aging, but let us look at just one more before moving on. As you get older you become less flexible. It takes you a lot longer to “limber up” for any sporting activity: golf, tennis, or a pick up game of basketball. Less flexibility predisposes you to experience more difficulty with certain movements: touching your toes, rotating during a golf swing, or even reaching down to pick something up off the ground. Why does this occur? Our bodies, as a result of wear and tear, become more “tight” and “wound up” as we get older.
So there you have it! Some of the great things to look forward to as you get older (kidding of course). So if you’re in your twenties and you’re reading this article, “enjoy it while it lasts,” because the road gets a little more difficult to travel as you get older. But, if you’re beyond your twenties, I am sure you can relate to the general results of aging in relation to your golf game. Quite simply, extra pounds decrease your stamina (and may affect your swing plane). Less muscle equals less distance off the tee, and decreased flexibility tends to make the turn in the golf swing much harder to perform. An unfortunate situation, but the good news is that we can slow down the aging process and limit the effects of aging on your golf game.
Slowing Down the Aging Process for the Golf Swing
I have given you a little “carrot of information” that we can slow down the aging process. How do we do it? It is actually quite simple and only requires a little time out of each day (15-20 minutes) and a little discipline. Sounds pretty easy when you think of all the benefits you stand to gain. What we are going to do is provide you some answers on how to slow down the aging process. Remember we can’t stop the aging process, but we can sure slow it down. The benefits of slowing down the aging process are evident when you see guys in their 50’s winning tour events. It just takes a little time, some knowledge, and discipline. If you are saying, “I don’t have the time,” let me ask you one question: How would you like to feel 10 years younger right now and hit the ball farther then you did in your twenties? I imagine the answer to both of those questions would be a resounding yes!
Let us start with the first topic that we described when you get older, the additional pounds. Unfortunately, as you age your metabolism slows down. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word metabolism, think of it as your own internal furnace. It is the rate at which you burn fuel (food is fuel to the human body). When we are younger we tend have faster metabolisms, and as we get older they slow down. (I know it is a bummer.) Well, let me tell you, there are activities to speed that metabolism back up. The way to do it is by performing some fitness activities. If you are active and participate in some type of structured activity your body will burn more fuel and elevate its metabolism during this time. In addition, if these activities are resistance-training activities (i.e. weights, tubing, light dumbbells, body weight), then over time you will build some muscle. The great thing about that is the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism will be all the time (translation: you will burn more fuel all day and night). A secondary benefit of such activities will be greater stamina on the course. So rather than “spraying your shots” around on the back nine because you’re tired, you can have pinpoint accuracy going into the 18th.
Moving on to our second point, the loss of muscle mass as you age, this one is a tough one to swallow. Just think, we actually LOSE muscle as we age. Pretty depressing. The good news is it can be limited or stopped. Before I give you the solution, let’s look at how this affects your golf swing. Essentially, in the golf swing you create club head speed. That club head speed is the result of creating rotational power, which we define as torque. To create torque, the muscles of the body have to be flexible, strong, and powerful. Now guess what? If you have less muscle, what do you think is going to happen to your power outputs and club head speed? The answer is they will decrease. No wonder they make senior shafts with a lot of flex. This is the golf manufacturers’ attempt to deal with this problem. It helps to a point, but we have a better solution. How about putting something in your bag that makes you stronger, improves your power, and gets back that lost distance? Sounds good? Well, it can be done if you implement a golf-specific strength-training program. You can get back that lost muscle mass, get back that power, and improve your driving distance. This is what we call the development of “golf strength,” and it can be done with a program that takes a total of 15 minutes a day!
Finally, moving on to the flexibility issue, our bodies lose flexibility as we age. Flexibility is a must when it comes to the golf swing. Here is what happens when you do not “work” on your flexibility. A loss of flexibility in the golf swing limits the ability of the body to perform the correct actions to create the proper swing. Essentially, your body won’t allow you to take the club back and through on the correct swing path. This leads to miss hits, slices, hooks, and a whole bunch of other shots that are very unpleasant. So how do we fix this problem or not allow it to become a problem? The answer is to implement a golf-specific flexibility program. This again requires a daily commitment, but the time frame is very little (say 5 minutes a day). So again, ask yourself: Is it worth spending 5 minutes a day on flexibility to have the golf swing you would like? I bet most of you would answer yes.
The Magic Pill
Well, there you have the pleasures, displeasure, joys, and sorrows of the aging process. We all get older, but there are things we can do to prevent the displeasures and sorrows. If we take a little time every day and perform the proper exercises and activities, we can reduce the effects of aging and have a great swing for as long as we like.
Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly with 2004 Masters Champion Phil Mickelson. To learn more about Sean and his golf fitness programs go to http://www.bioforcegolf.com